No Surprises

We’ve been prepared for this moment ever since Cesc burst onto the scene and announced himself as a super prospect when he started playing alongside Patrick Vieira in 2004. I had heard a story that before Cesc signed for us at the age of 16 that he begged Barcelona for an opportunity to prove himself and his pleas were rebuffed. Now, I don’t know if that story is true or not, but I don’t remember Barcelona pitching much of a fit when we initially signed him. It’s only after his cerebral brain proved to be old enough to play in one of the top leagues in the world at the age of 18 that Barcelona claimed outrage. Regardless, the fact that Cesc would want to return to Barcelona was never up for debate, it was a matter of when.

– Hopeful Gooners wished upon a star that he would stay until he was 30. Most Gooners might have imagined him leaving to replace an aging Xavi. Pessimistic Gooners thought the date was right around the corner. Having just watched the Arsenal Season Review of last year, the last couple of months probably made Cesc more anxious to leave than ever.

– Consider what happened. We were destroyed by Messi in the Champions League. Fabianski singlehandedly exploded a grenade in our face. Barcelona repeated in La Liga. Spain won the World Cup. Pique and Puyol whispered sweet nothings into his ear for the last three months.

– On a complete side note, the subject of Cesc’s controversial transfer when he arrived at Arsenal was not controversial at all. In England, anybody aged 16 can sign a professional contract with anybody they want. Not all of Barcelona’s famed players come through La Masia at a young age. Puyol was 17 when he joined, Busquets was 17 when he joined, Pedro was 17 when he joined, Jeffren was 16 when he joined, and Messi was 11 when he joined but from a foreign country and mainly came over to enjoy human growth hormone treatment. There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but what is the difference with what we did with Cesc and what Barcelona did with those players? Nothing. So, when they claim that Cesc isn’t worth more than 35 million pounds because they reared him, it’s code talk for “we’re broke”.

– My colleague stated that he wasn’t bothered about Barcelona players talking about their desire for Cesc to join Barcelona. I’d agree with most of that, but I don’t appreciate it when the line is crossed. For me, the line gets crossed when Puyol starts to almost refer to Arsenal as a “prison” and when Xavi says Cesc “deserves better than Arsenal”. The people of New Orleans deserved better. Cesc is being paid 90,000 pounds a week and plays for one of the most glamorous sides in Europe. I don’t mind them talking all the time, but it feels like a systematic ploy to drive the price down. Talk about Cesc all you want, just don’t slander our club. Puyol claims we should “show more class”. Well, Wenger said he wouldn’t complain about Barcelona’s constant stream of Cesc foreplay, classy enough for you? They must all have their separate days in which one of their teammates will talk about Cesc. Keep talking, it’s not as if Wenger is listening.

– Perhaps the thing that really bothers me is that there’s clearly truth behind these words. Cesc does want to leave. There’s no doubting that. His respect for Wenger and the fans are what’s preventing him from going even more public or handing in a transfer request. All we had heard from Cesc is that he had a conversation with Wenger that was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to go through. We can infer all we like, but Wenger is not talking about it. Instead, Arsene is adamant that he’ll stay. Taggart did this two years ago with Cristiano Ronaldo.

– My colleague has also raised the point that this saga has done harm to our team. He’s asked whether or not Cesc will be fully committed and whether or not the other players will fully trust him. It’s a valid thing to consider, but I think once Cesc knows he’s going to stay for the year, he’ll buck up and give it his all. He’s a true professional and he’s not going to sulk; he simply respects Arsenal too much. Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers a few years ago. In his first game, he was booed at Staples. Regardless of that, he played to his full capacity and the team performed so well that he rescinded his trade request and started a run of three consecutive Finals runs culminating in back to back Championships. That saga tested me fully as a sports fan, because that was the same summer that Henry left Arsenal. When the word circulated that Cesc wanted out, I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t crushed.

– As much as we do not want to have an unsettled player on our squad, what is most important to me is establishing a hard line of negotiation. Quite simply, we hold all the cards and Barcelona knows it. Take a club like Lyon for example. Jean-Michel Aulas is amongst the best transfer operators in the business. He extracted 26 million pounds for Michael Essien and 26 million euros for Diarra. Both players stated that they wanted to leave and he still got those fees. To accept anything less than 50 million pounds is an insult. There are only a handful of players who have a higher transfer value than Cesc Fabregas. I do not mind him leaving, but I do mind him leaving for less than he’s worth.

– If that doesn’t happen this summer, then it’ll happen next summer. Something inside me (and this 100% pure speculation) thinks that this may Wenger’s final season. That’s not to suggest the board will fire him. It’s also not to suggest that if he wins, he’ll come back. I just have a feeling that he wants to have his squad together to mount a challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League and that’s why he’s desperate to hold onto Cesc. Let me repeat that I’m just making a guess and that I hope he’ll stay for many more years. But if that was the case, it would signal his intention to go out with a bang.

– Either way, this whole Cesc saga has been a chore. What I know is this. If we don’t get proper value for Cesc, it’s bad for the club. If we sell him for the proper amount, we can replace Cesc (Ozil and Hazard come to mind, not on a one for one basis, but just talented players who are out there). If we keep him for another year, I know that Cesc will be as committed and will want to go to Barcelona with a Premier League medal in his wardrobe; that’ll have to be good enough for now.

Atlanta

I’ve left Boulder, Colorado and have moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

There are 11 good reasons for this:

1. I prefer the east coast. Boulder is in the mid-west…not the west as it so often claims. It is a “liberal” bubble in the middle of a conservative wasteland of dried up praries and pre-fab homes. I will take humidity over thin air any day.

2. Being only 5 hours time difference from London is better than being 7 hours. It means that if Arsenal have a kick-off at 12:30 pm GMT then I don’t have to get up at some hour that only crack heads or heroin users are awake at.

3. Women of Boulder are disgusting. They just let themselves go all fucking natural. To the extent that they either look like a used yoga mat or a fucking herbal tea bag. Their legs look like moss on an ancient tree stump. This is because a lot of them don’t shave their legs, whereas the men who bike everywhere thinking that they’re in the Tour de fucking France – wearing tight fluorescent cycling shorts and wank cycling helmets – do shave their legs. So the women don’t shave their legs but the men do. Boulder needs to get its priorities straight.

4. In Boulder, it snows in May and is known to snow in September and June. That means that it has worse weather than Stoke on Trent. Fuck that!

5. Don’t hate normal women because they’re hot. The truth is they’re not ‘naturally’ hot. Thank God for $150 high-lights, $60 haircuts, eyebrow waxing, Brazilian waxing. These services are mainstream except in Boulder where they are shunned. Most women embrace these and look forward to them but not in Boulder. Giant bush no thanks!. Grey hair at 30 not a chance! Boulder women stop looking like grey haired badgers!

6. I climbed a mountain – The Twin Sisters – it’s 11,500 feet up in the air. I got to the top and was surrounded by clouds. There was no vegetation at the top. I was freezing cold and struggled for air. Then it started to snow. It was early September. It took me 3 hours to run down to the bottom. When I got home, I was depressed. I vowed never to climb a mountain again. Rambo I’m not.

7. Denver is the Sheffield of the USA. It’s full of white trash meth heads walking around in over-sized black clothing with pasty white skin. Their skin reminds me of Marilyn Manson – it’s so white, they could smuggle talcum powder. Then you have the Latino gang bangers and their white T-Shirts and barrio attitude. Take away the backdrop of the Rockies and you’re left with industrial New Jersey and the most overrated weather on the planet.

8. If you’re a woman, you’ll get a dirty look for wearing lipstick or heels.

9. Patagonia, North Face, Columbia, and REI are not stylish. Please don’t shop for formal wear in these locations. A ‘cocktail’ dress from Patagonia will not cut it on the East Coast.

10. Back in the 90’s tanning salons popped up all over the country like zits on a pre-teen face. This phenomenon does not compare to the rate at which Marijuana dispensaries appeared in Boulder. One block could contain up to 5 of these joints (no pun intended). They supply weed for every walk of life and every situation imaginable….and all it takes is $90 and some flimsy card from your weed friendly doctor. You’ve got: weed for waking up, getting ready for work weed, at work weed, fuck weed, pre-pregnancy bud, breast-feeding friendly weed..you get the drift. The entire city was stoned. Which you may not think is a bad thing, but honestly it gets old- fast.

11. Oh and about that breast-feeding. In most of the US, breast feeding is reserved for the crowd under 1 year. Well, at any given day in Boulder just head on down to the local YMCA and there you will witness what to the average person is a freak show, some gray haired hippie nut-job breast feeding her 4 year old kid- her nasty breasts on display, free of charge. It’s like watching Spurs qualify for the Champions League!

Keep It Arsenal

El Cunto

El Cunto the Promoter and the Debut of Conversations With Dante

The Informer has not retired. I sense that he’s not far away, refining his methods, bullying his sauces to get it right, wiping that dried yolk off his handsome face. Trust me. He’ll be back bigger, better, stronger.

Meanwhile, his alter-ego El Cunto is trying his hand at promoting. I began training Monday night for the NYC North London Derby. The herniated discs, pinched nerve, and tendonitis will not stop me playing in this match. If I have any semblance of fitness, I will suit up. It’s that important. Even if I play just ten minutes, I’ll be happy.

We’ll see if I can find enough straps and braces to make a difference. Youth is wasted on the young. Xbox playing, phone text addicted, Facebook junkie little cunts!

The little voice inside my head is saying to forget about playing and go on living relatively pain free. It’s probably right but if this match does happen and is anything like the last time I joined El Cunto for a game, it will be memorable. Two years ago, he organized a 5-a-side that I played in. The temperature was hotter than I’ve ever experienced on a pitch, seriously. Definitely not football weather! To make matters worse, the opposition had three subs for the two 20-minute halves. We had no subs. Nevertheless, despite being down something like 8-2 at Half Time it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my entire life.

El Cunto was nutmegged by some ponytail wearing cnut in the First Half. I could hear the 1886 man, “Oh, It’s like that!?!?” He was not pleased. A Half Time chat, some rehydrating, and a nice breather helped us refocus. El Cunto ran the show. I got stuck in on the ponytail wearing forward – his threat died like a candle blown in the wind but I have to give it to him, he was a decent player.

We pressed on and equalized. El Cunto was on fire. They capitulated. We wound up winning 15-10.

If this NYC North London Derby does happen, put your money on him to shine. And the Bermuda boys are eager to play so it should be fun if nothing else. Me on the other hand, well, just make sure EMTs are on call nearby.

Dante and I chatted the other day. He, like most Arsenal fans these days, has much to say about the current squad. Here are a few samplings from the conversation:

Agent 86: What has stood out for you so far this pre-season?

Dante: Arshavin gets it, after being blasted by an 18 y/o midfielder (Wilshere) for not getting back and doing his part I have seen a slight change in him.

Agent 86: I expect to see serious changes this season where he’s concerned. He owes us. He can be our Messi. I really believe he can be as good as any player in the game today if he puts his mind to it. I suppose it’s about motivation with him. I can’t hide how disappointed I’ve been. I thought we signed a legitimate world star, a football genius.

Dante: Against SK Sturm Graz I watched him point and speak to players about where to be when defending rather than trudging back on the wing head down. This ever so slight change if continued throughout the season could help to ease pressure on the back four.

Agent 86: I agree. There are times when all a defender needs is that little bit extra from a forward or a midfielder to get into a position that changes the opposition’s point of attack and kills a threat. It can be that added effort that gets us a result. Think back to Denilson’s jog back as Rooney and Nani broke away at The Emirates last season.

Switching gears, I‘ve noticed that Frimpong has gotten some very good reviews so far.

Dante: Wilshere/Frimpong instill fear! Not only to opposing pre-season teams but to my delight, in our own players. Our experienced midfielders know Jack is coming, Frimpong is coming, and if it hadn’t been for [insert any number of expletives that equal Northern troglodyte masking as a footballer in a candy-striped top], Ramsey would have arrived! Knowing that these Young Guns could replace you like for like in a game helps to remove complacency from the equation.

Agent 86: Well put! Wenger recently mentioned how you can’t be a top flight footballer without the expectation of having to compete for your place. That as much as anything needs to be addressed. We should have players who’ve experienced competition for places long enough by now. In the recent past, we haven’t had that ‘fear of losing your place’ factor playing in our favor. In fact, it’s time to just stop the general excuse that we are not experienced enough. Even our youngest squad players have gone out on loan and know what’s required of them.

Dante: All the pundits keep on harping on experience, all experience is (these are my [Dante’s] own words not quoted from anyone) is “knowing what you are up against and not fearing it”. Some players in our squad should take a lesson from Mr. Wilshere and Mr. Frimpong.

The conversation moved along swimmingly but we returned to ‘Arshavin the Salesman’:

Dante: I think the thing that will make Arshavin into an unstoppable machine is something simple, A FRIEND!!

At that point, I wandered away in thought. Wow! Could this be the key to sparking our Ruskii genii into action? The idea intrigued me.

Dante: He needs another Russian who is not a female or a pig – as we all know he hates them. He knows Clown 1 is on his way out. Everyone on the squad knows this. That’s why he has never featured*. Arshavin is about himself but when he sees that he can help himself and help the team he is in hence; “I have spoken with Arshavin about Arsenal and London life. He has only had good things to say about the club and the city. He said some very nice things about me going on to be the best goalkeeper in the world – and that he would like me to reach that goal at Arsenal with him.”

Agent 86: I hear you! And if the woman doubles as a pig, keep her from him at any cost. Seriously speaking though, I know that at least one of my colleagues at 1886 has expressed less than positive thoughts on signing Akinfeev but I’m willing to pay for his first 20 minutes’ wages if we sign him. I’d pay the entire first week but with economy and all…

[Clearly not moved by my pathetic attempts at humour] Dante: I watched some of the MLS vs. “The Giants of Europe” such as Man City, _pur_, and Manure. _pur_ will always look bad even if they win 100-0. Thierry did the business again against them on his debut. City looked pathetic and didn’t win a game the whole tour, and United lost to 10-man Kansas City. Now everyone will say, “Oh it’s just pre-season and the stars were not playing.”

Berbatov, Gibson, Giggs, Scholes, Fabio, Rafael, Nani, Welbeck, Macheda, Diouf, Evans, if you know who these players are then SHUT UP!!! STOP CRYING!!!

Agent 86: Cheers Dante! We’ll catch up with you real soon. I’ll work on the jokes if I have time after training for the derby. I promise. Buy the rest of the boys in Bermuda a round for me.

Finally, I found this bit by Arsene interesting:

“Djourou has a small hamstring problem but it is not bad. He should be available for the weekend. Rosicky had a small, small alert. He was supposed to play in the first half but he could have played. I didn’t want to take the gamble, it is only a little problem on his groin and I decided to replace him.”

It reminded me of when a very cynical Gooner (a guy we all at 1886 have butted heads with) once said that Wenger rushes players back from injury. He has far, far fewer sauces than The Informer (who at least can be entertaining) yet was convinced that Wenger was his own players’ worst enemy in that he will make them play while not 100% fit.

I wondered if there has ever been any truth to that when I read the quote above, which clearly shows that Arsene will err on the side of caution.

Chat later!

* Clown No. 1 started the match against SC Neusiedl 1919. Hopefully, it will be his last start in our uniform.

Breezy Austria

– What can we really tell from these pre-season fixtures against lightweight Austrian opposition? This isn’t to slight our opposition or our approach to pre-season. I’d argue that the matches are good for building stamina levels, but the training is what is actually most important.

– Tonight we faced Neusiedl 1919 and never got out of second gear. What did we learn today?

– Carlos Vela really loves to score chipped goals. In fact, I’d argue that 75% of his goals for Arsenal have been off chips.

– Johan Djourou went off injured in the first half. He was not limping badly, so it might have been precautionary. He spent all of last year recovering from an injury. Sol Campbell is heavily rumored to be signing with Newcastle. That leaves us with three regular CB’s (four if you count Alex Song, which I’d rather not). We need to sign defenders. People may be happy to be rid of Gallas, but I’d kill to have him back on the squad. With van Persie given the No. 10 jersey, that’s not going to happen.

– Which naturally leads to Koscielny. He is what every Arsenal blogger has pointed out; he has a slight build. But we can’t really tell anything in these games. We’re not facing class opposition, he doesn’t have much to worry about, any lapses could be due to sheer boredom (even if that’s unprofessional). Point blank, we’re not to learn enough about Koscielny until we see him in the Premier League.

– Wilshere and Emmanuel-Thomas continue to impress. Wilshere’s deft touch is a sign of true skill. Emmanuel-Thomas is a battering ram up front and is an alternative to both Bendtner and Chamakh. Emmanuel Frimpong is also making a case that he’s moved up in the queue past Craig Eastmond. Frimpong’s assured defensive shield duty was noticeable, he snapped into tackles and chased until he won the ball back.

– Manuel Almunia finally started in goal. Vito Mannone saved a tame penalty.

– Nasri is pulling all of the strings in midfield right now, but Cesc is taking a holiday in Spain hearing sweet nothings from his best friend Gerard Pique.

– The Emirates Cup is very soon, we’ll learn more then.

The NYC North London Derby

So I’m trying to organize a 5-a-side match in New York against the NYC Spurs Supporters Club. They hang out at Floyds in Brooklyn next door to the Chip Shop which is an Arsenal bar.

The match – 1886 v NYC Spuds would be a first in America and if popular would attract interest and attention from Gooners around the world.

The ideal time to play this match would be either when the real North London derby is taking place or on a U.S. public holiday – like Labor Day.

Players of 1886 would be representing Arsenal fans of New York.

So far we have three players.

We need a keeper.

All players must be Arsenal fans. Your nationality doesn’t come into the equation.

We will be wearing the traditional red Arsenal tops.

A trophy will be awarded to the winning team.

Bermuda Boys – are you in?

Keep It Arsenal

El Cunto

Random Musings and A Tribute to Thierrence

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Emmanuel Frimpong look like they are progressing but we really haven’t played anybody of note this pre-season. It’s still nice to see though. And of course we all want to see Lil’ Jack remind the world that despite everything, England (Arsenal) does produce skillful players.

Ricardo Carvalho has called Jose Mourinho “the best manager in the history of football”. Can he win a few international tournaments first before we say that? Clearly, Carvalho is eager to join Jose at Real Madrid. I am eager for us to face them in the Champions League at some stage. I would love to see Wenger thrash The Special One.

Yaya Toure has joined Manchester City for footballing reasons. And if Kolo were at United and they were swimming in money, he’d probably join them for “footballing reasons” too. This is a good chance for me to reiterate that you couldn’t get me to join Manchester Fucking United for anything – well, perhaps to save my nine year-old nephew if that’s what it came down to but for nothing else. Besides, they don’t need another crocked, old defender with a dodgy memory. They already have the absent-minded hoover.

Eduardo has left for a new challenge. Some people might argue that he has already faced the ultimate challenge after nice guy Tiny so uncharacteristically put in a (perfectly fair) challenge that just happened to threaten the native Brazilian’s career. As El Cunto has said, it is a shame we never got to see Eduardo’s best at Arsenal. Thank you very much English football. Take a good long look at the entire saga and you will find some helpful clues on the things that hurt the game in England.

Laurent Blanc has suspended the French players in response to their protest against the real “best manager in the history of football”, Raymond Domenech. As I understand it, he is still unemployed. I would recommend him highly to any English club that doesn’t already have a French manager.

Not to take any arm in arm solidarity stance with Chelsea and _pur_ but via Top Four Club membership, football has migrated south. Fuck off Stoke and the rest of you Northern cunts. Ooooh, I can barely wait to face you poor excuses for footballers.

France and England drew 1-1 at the U19 UEFA Championships Saturday. Coquelin came on for Sunu on 73. Tom Cruise played the entire match for England. Both teams are in the last four. England face Spain as France take on Croatia Tuesday.

A few people I’ve spoken to seem to feel that I have been harsh on Thierry Henry. Quite the opposite. He is a legend and will always be one. The man has made more happy moments for me than any athlete that I can think of.

THAT is saying loads.

He just doesn’t wear the Arsenal uniform any more hence he is off my radar. Besides, he plays in a league I do not follow. I did like this quote, “Whatever it is I want to come back [to Arsenal], maybe as a waterboy, I just love this club”.

Wicked!

Nasri Is Ready

– Nasri’s World Cup omission worked out for the best. He wasn’t involved with the French debacle, which also means he’s a guarantee to be called up after Blanc axed the entire squad for one match. He took the omission personally, and he’s bulked up quite a bit.

– When we signed Samir Nasri, I was honestly shocked. It wasn’t cause I doubted his natural ability or thought he was a bad signing. It’s just that Arsenal are linked with young prospects so frequently that it was quite surprising that we actually signed one. Think about all the names that Arsenal are loosely linked with, mainly for the fact that we’re viewed as a club that gives young players opportunities.

– Nasri’s first season showed promise, but shunted out to the left wing, it was mostly a season of adjustment.

– Nasri’s next season started on a bad note when he broke his fibula during training. He sparkled sometimes (against Porto) and inconsistent at other times. When Cesc went down with the injury that finished his season, he was handed the keys to our midfield and didn’t do enough in my opinion.

– In this preseason, he’s been Arsenal’s best performer. He has a chip on his shoulder, and he better. I believe Nasri’s best position would be to play foil to Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield. This will be a big season, and he looks to be up for it.

– One can only hope that Theo has that same burning desire. To be fair, I’ve seen more from Theo, but it’s still not enough. But preseason has just started, it’s time to crank things up a bit.